Govt to auction assets of media law violators from next month

15 Nov 2012

The Argentine government is preparing to auction off the assets of companies violating the country’s controversial media law from 7 December, Dow Jones Newswires cites Martin Sabbatella, head of broadcast regulator AFSCA, as saying at a press conference. ‘Our main concern is to implement the media law and to preserve jobs,’ Sabbatella said, adding that the state will organise the auctions and set the sale price. The move could affect local media giant Grupo Clarin (owner of cableco Cablevision, broadband provider FiberTel and a number of TV channels), which has been embroiled in a dispute with the administration of President Cristina Fernandez since 2008. In December 2009 Clarin won a court suspension of Article 161 of the Audiovisual Communication Law, which states that companies exceeding licence limits set forth by the law must make divestments within one year. Earlier this year the Supreme Court ordered that the three-year precautionary measure will mature on 7 December, meaning that Clarin may be forced to sell some of its assets from that date. Last month, Sabbatella said that the government will call for an auction of Clarin’s licences that exceed legal limits (158 TV licences, one for each of the cities in which it offers cable and internet, and 134 more than the 24 allowed) if it does not act by 7 December, stating that the government will not confiscate or nationalise media companies.

Argentina, Cablevision (FiberTel)